Former Sen. Barbara Mikulski and Stephanie Young, executive director of the nonpartisan group, When We All Vote, recently guided a discussion on the election's outcomes for Baltimore students and community leaders. The session discussed what the election means for those elected and political institutions, as well as what students and the community can do to continue to have a voice.

By Tashi McQueen, AFRO Political Writer,
Report for America Corps Member,
tmcqueen@afro.com

Former Sen. Barbara Mikulski recently joined forces with Stephanie Young, executive director of the nonpartisan organization, When We All Vote, a non-profit organization, to discuss the results of the 2022 midterm election with students from Johns Hopkins University (JHU) and community members. 

The session included discussion on what the election results mean for the future of Maryland and America as a nation.

The hour-long event was organized by Stavros Niarchos Foundation (SNF) Agora Institute at JHU on their Homewood campus. “The 2022 Midterms: What Happened—and What Now?” was the title of the discussion.

Young focused her remarks on generation z and people of color while Mikulski centered on social security and highlighted democratic wins.

”I think this election defied pundits and the polls,” said Mikulski. “The so-called ‘red wave’ was barely a trickle because people wanted stability and confidence.”

As of Nov. 23, Democrats have 51 seats in the U.S. Senate, including Vice President Kamala Harris, and Republicans have 49 seats according to Associated Press election results. Democrats have 212 seats in the U.S. House of Representatives and Republicans have 220. It is likely Republicans will win the House, but the race has not been called yet.

Prior to the elections, Republicans were slated to widely overcome Democrats in Congress.

Mikulski said this election will strengthen Biden because Democrats gained leverage despite the expected opposition.

Young commented on the climate of American government operations.

“We have to end gerrymandering and the filibuster,” said Young. “So we’re not relying on this institution that has historically held us back.”

Both Mikulski and Young highlighted voting rights as a remaining concern for young people and African Americans.  

“We know that young people are paying attention,” said Young. “They are doing peer-to-peer organizing — getting in the game and taking actions.”

Young said generation z voters are among the most active of voters because they now have reached a turning point where they feel comfortable taking charge and using their political power. 

On Election day there were a number of reports of long lines of college students waiting to cast their vote – book bags and all.

Young and Mikulski further pushed that young people should get involved through Non-profit Governmental Organizations. They advocated for students to become poll workers, become public service workers and run for office.

Young believes it is vital for more young people to become public service workers, especially those with varying backgrounds.

JHU biology major Feven Welde. (Courtesy Photo)

“Every issue is a voting issue,” said Young. “Our democracy can be taken away in the blink of an eye.”

Mikulski and Young reached at least one student, Feven Welde. She is a 20-year-old JHU biology major who showed up to the event out of curiosity and found a better understanding.

“I showed up out of curiosity because I’m not familiar with political science,” said Welde. “Prior to this, I had no knowledge of voting, so I would definitely say I gained new viewpoints and a better understanding of the election process.”

Welde was so comfortable, she even introduced herself to Young after the event.

Note: The comments and opinions of the panelists are not expressly of Johns Hopkins.

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